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  • Black & white

    I am working on a portrait and after really cleaning it up, and color correcting it to my satisfaction (and hopefully the customers), the customer tells me he want a nice Black & White for his final. Now that is not always so easy to accomplish after the fact. The subjects were all wearing WHITE shirts with a light neutral canvas backdrop. Conversion made them all darker (fleshtones) than their clothes and their surroundings and rather flat. I alternately adjusted using the black and white adjustment control, and built up layers, using varying density masks to achieve a more dramatic black and white final. This can certainly be a subjective call, as my wife likes the straight Grayscale conversion while I prefer the route I went. Give me your opinions...

    www.daygraphics.net/GRAY_CONV.jpg
    www.daygraphics.net/BW_ADJUST.jpg

  • #2
    Re: Black & white

    i prefer the adjustments, the before seamed to have way to much white, and made it eye-straining to look at because it lacked depth. I really like what you have done here.

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    • #3
      Re: Black & white

      Your render is very good. Of course it also depends on what the customer wants, and everyone has a different touch when hands on. When i do a B & W work I use to add a blue thin film (or filter) with very low density in order to give it some punch, but then again, depends on the portrait.
      Boneappetit
      Senior Member
      Last edited by Boneappetit; 02-11-2011, 01:01 PM.

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      • #4
        Re: Black & white

        Nice job DG. I'd like somewhere in between the two! 'Adjust' has the better contrast/interest but conv has better tone for my tastes. I'd like to try a tritone with black and two greys on this one as in arty B/W compositions. Bad luck with the Steelers!
        R.

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        • #5
          Re: Black & white

          Some good suggestions. I think I agree with all of them. I'll rework it a bit and see if I can't implement your input. Thank you very much. Yeah RM... it was a "sad day" in the burgh. But hey, life goes on.

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          • #6
            Re: Black & white

            Personally, I don't think either one is an acceptable black and white conversion method for this image. They are both very flat and dead looking. Can you post a color version so we can see exactly what you were working with? It would make it easier to give you a recommendation on the method.

            Without seeing the original photo, I'd recommend a channel mixer adjustment layer set to monochrome with the values at about <70,80,-40,0> as a starting point, this will brighten up the skin tones without blowing out the shirts too badly.

            If you need to dodge and burn, do so on the original color layer, don't flatten the image and then try to dodge or burn, you'll get better results.

            Sorry I'm late to the game on this one, but hopefully it can help you the next time a client wants a black and white image.

            Cheers,
            Michael

            PS, Attaching a sample of a person with tanned skin and a white t-shirt to demonstrate the difference between the techniques.
            Attached Files

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            • #7
              Re: Black &amp; white

              Hi Michael,

              Thanks for the input. I am actually struggling with this one because of the very fact that you mention. The family's flesh tones are darker than the white shirts and backdrop. Any/all conversions and filters, curves, passes, etc. that I've tried have left me wanting. If this were for print, I would have a clearer idea of what I want and need - given the printing specs, press conditions, dot gain and what-not, but this is ultimately for photographic output.

              Also, if I knew they were going for a black & white, I would have had the photographer set up his lighting differently - with more dramatic key light(s) and maybe more fill (particularly on the light side of face areas).

              If you would like to have a go at it - go right ahead.

              www.daygraphics.net/FAMILY.jpg

              Interesting to note that the example you've shown looks to overall light and actually somewhat flat for me, but maybe it is the direction I need to head. Thank you for your suggestions. Maybe I can get something that I like - and most importantly - the client.
              daygraphics
              Senior Member
              Last edited by daygraphics; 03-04-2011, 11:53 AM.

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              • #8
                Re: Black &amp; white

                Dargraphics, the link to your image does not function.
                Regards, Murray

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                • #9
                  Re: Black &amp; white

                  Garsh darn-it, you are right Murray. CAPS... that's it!!! Those darn Capital letters!!!

                  www.daygraphics.net/FAMILY.jpg

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                  • #10
                    Re: Black &amp; white

                    I also think the gray conversion is too flat and prefer your targeted B&W version. I think it is headed in the right direction but still lacks a bit of punch.
                    So I tried adding some microcontrast and shadow/highlight inversion. I did so rather agressively. However if you or your client likes that style, you could produce a version somewhere in between the two. With conversions to B&W, there are so many tastes different people have. Sometimes it is best to show the customer several styles and see what they like.
                    Attached is a screenshot of my sample and the link is to a higher res version.
                    http://www.divshare.com/download/14226455-afc
                    Regards, Murray
                    Attached Files

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                    • #11
                      Re: Black &amp; white

                      I like some of what you have going on here Murray. I think I would like to take mine a bit more in that direction. If you have time in next couple of days to elaborate (more specifically) on what you did (actual tools, procedures and steps), I would like to try the steps myself on the full hires image. Thanks,

                      Dan

                      P.S. You are so right. B&W's are really, really subjective. I like the dramatic a bit more while others like the subdued. I have a feeling this client is looking for a dramatic Hollywood feeling.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Black &amp; white

                        Originally posted by mistermonday View Post
                        I also think the gray conversion is too flat and prefer your targeted B&W version. I think it is headed in the right direction but still lacks a bit of punch.
                        So I tried adding some microcontrast and shadow/highlight inversion. I did so rather agressively. However if you or your client likes that style, you could produce a version somewhere in between the two. With conversions to B&W, there are so many tastes different people have. Sometimes it is best to show the customer several styles and see what they like.
                        Attached is a screenshot of my sample and the link is to a higher res version.
                        http://www.divshare.com/download/14226455-afc
                        Regards, Murray
                        I like your version Murray, it has that hdr touch... Nice job!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Black &amp; white

                          I've thrown together a quick, very clean black and white conversion for you. I slapped on a channel mixer layer with the values <40,103,-42,0>; a curves layer with points at <0,0>, <61,68>, <155,154>, <255,255>. I used a selectively blended (0/0;38/165) multiply layer set to 50% under the chanel mixer to give me more depth in the black and to reduce the fill light a little bit, giving us a little more range in the skin, then did a quick high pass sharpen set to soft light. A little dodge and burn on the original layer and we're done.

                          This is essentially a high-key image in that it's a light colored subject on a light colored background... attempting to add too much contrast to the image will actually make things worse.

                          And Murray, if you showed that picture to an actual female client, you would have a very upset person on your hands... the mother in that version looks AT LEAST 10 years older than in the color version.

                          If your client is wanting a dramatic, Hollywood feel, I'm afraid your only option is to re-shoot. It does not matter what you do to this image from a retouching standpoint, if you try to edge up the style, it makes the actual image feel like a boring, traditional pose on a boring, traditional background. I'd recommend embracing the traditional nature of the photo and going with something classy and clean.

                          Cheers,
                          Michael
                          Attached Files
                          MBChamberlain
                          Senior Member
                          Last edited by MBChamberlain; 03-04-2011, 08:20 PM. Reason: looked at image again and wanted to do a little more dodging.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Black &amp; white

                            Thanks Mike, Murray and all. I will play around with a couple of your suggestions and see if I can't come up with something in between it all. I appreciate your taking the time to offer your thoughts. I am going to adjust the image starting with my original Adjusted Version and try to add some of the good things I see in your examples. Then I am just going to present it, and hopefully put it to rest. Actually, you really never know for sure if its a winner until it comes back from the photolab.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Black &amp; white

                              And Murray, if you showed that picture to an actual female client, you would have a very upset person on your hands... the mother in that version looks AT LEAST 10 years older than in the color version.
                              Michael, a great many of my customers are VPs, CEOs, and executives of large corporations. The women are mostly mature in years and are quite sensitive regarding their portraits. I spend a great deal of time de-emphasizing temporally induced skin anomalies

                              The shooting conditions (subject, clothing, bg) for Dan's image are not ideal for the B&W his client is now requesting - at least not with standard brightness and contrast adjustments. However, with some tone mapping and tone inversion he can achieve a pretty good result.
                              As I stated, my 1st attachment was radical and just aimed to show the direction for tone inversion. I have a pile of tools to make such adjustments and for the one I attached I used a couple of the sliders in Photomatix. HDR is usually not suited for human subjects because it brings out every bit of detail which you do not want - not only for the woman you referenced but also the other subjects in the photo.
                              However, you can use other techniques to mitigate the detail enhancement caused by tone mapping. So here is an example of the other end of the tone mapping spectrum. Please see the screenshot attached and the higher res version here http://www.divshare.com/download/14230110-187
                              In this version you may find the skin oversmoothed but you still have better contrast. Dan, you can generate this by opening the image in Camera RAW, pull the saturation slider all the way to the left, drag the Fill slider to the right to about 80-100%, then drag the Blacks slider also to the right to offset the effect of the Fill slider (usually around 50% but depends on the image).
                              Some blending of the high detail and low detail images should result in one that is satisfactory.
                              Regards, Murray
                              Attached Files

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